I dodged a bullet. Literally. No joke. Well, maybe not literally, I did not Neo-from-The-Matrix myself out of the way as a bullet was propelling toward me. But I did have a close encounter of the second amendment kind, and heard the ffffffZZZZZZRrrrrrrrrr as a stray bullet went flying by me. But fear not, seven readers, I’m still alive.
Here’s the long story: I’m on the peak-to-peak highway on an unusually warm winter day — Sunday — heading south from tiny mountain town Ward down toward less-tiny-but-still-like-1000-people town Nederland. Nothing can stop me. It’s a beautiful day, I’m on a beautiful bike, life is great, it’s Sunday and I don’t have homework, WHAT CAN GO WRONG? Nothing!! Oh, except that explosion off to my left. A bottle rocket?
I’ve watched Saving Private Ryan enough to know the sound of bullets flying way too close. I do the cycling equivalent of duck-and-cover, which I decide instantaneously is to get in the drops and absolutely hammer it. Oh my god. I’m dead. It’s over. Someone’s shooting at me, and I’m dead. I pedal furiously, hoping I’m out of range. Am I hit? I’ve heard sometimes the adrenaline is so high that people don’t even realize they’ve been shot. It’s awful purdy up on these mountains, maybe I am in heaven. As I stomp the pedals, sprinting for my life — folks, I’m under the impression that I am literally sprinting for my life at this point — I tell myself there’s no way that was a bullet, that didn’t just happen, I was mistaken, all is well, show’s over, nothing to see here…
I hear another explosive *pop*pop* and brace for impact. It was a good life. I did what I wanted, except skydive and win a national championship and visit South America and procreate. But no problem, it’s all good. I continue to pedal as if my life depended on it (it did).
I somehow get out alive, and have a newfound appreciation for the Band of Brothers miniseries, and Jack Bauer, and my Dad or anyone else who had/has to endure actual war. I faced one bullet and got scared shitless (figuratively, promise), but some people encounter bullets whizzing by them every day of the week.
There are lots of things that can be a wake-up call, to cause one to realize the preciousness and temporal nature of life, and in my situation on this warm winter day, it was a bullet, shooting past my goddamn face that woke me up to the fact that I could be dead tomorrow. Hopefully not by a random bullet. But we could all go anytime.
I think, “What if it had hit me?” Surely someone at my funeral would say something like, “He died doing something he loved.”
And they’d be wrong, because I hate getting shot in the face with a bullet.